Industry Magazine Get JACK'D Magazine Winter 2019 | Page 21
Three Tips for Landing
Your Next Big Referral
BY: JOHN RUHLIN, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE RUHLIN GROUP
ATTRACTING HIGH-NET-WORTH clients
is not a matter of luck or personal style. Line
100 financial advisors against a wall, and
even their mothers would have a hard time
telling them apart. Those standards make
advisors trustworthy, but they do little to
distinguish them from one another.
The trick to distinguishing yourself is
to build real connections with potential
clients. That is something that no brochure
has the power to do – no matter how many
flashy buzzwords it contains.
For example, I once learned that a new
client of mine was getting ready to leave
on a fishing trip to Alaska with his brothers,
father and grandfather. It was a bucket-
list trip they’d always dreamed of taking.
The next day, we overnighted beautifully
engraved fishing knives to all three
generations – father, son and grandson –
to create an “artifact” and commemorate
the trip in a lasting way. The cost was
significant, but as a result of the gesture,
we now count them all as clients – among
our 40 largest, in fact.
It’s not the details of your suit or your car
that capture the attention and excitement
of potential clients. That is done through
interactions that show real interest in them
and not their pocketbooks.
How do you make those meaningful
connections? From giving the right gifts to
crafting pleasant surprises, there are many
ways to do it. Here are some of the tricks
that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Get them something they
As I’ve learned in my corporate gifting
business, the importance of unique
experiences can never be undersold.
One of my clients was a top financial
advisor with Northwestern Mutual who was
trying to break in with some of the business
owners in his area. It’s difficult to impress
company founders; they’re a wealthy and
catered-to bunch, not easily dazzled by a
designer suit. So what did we do?
We hosted an event for founders and
their friends and hired America’s first
master sommelier, Eddie Osterland, to
speak on the topic of high-level “power
entertaining.” There are approximately 180
master sommeliers in the world, making
this a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The
impact of the event was huge, elevating my
client in business owners’ eyes and opening
the door to real conversations.
The key ingredient of this event? We
didn’t talk about business. We just had an
entertaining and enlightening evening.
Friends don’t bring friends to 401(k)
seminars, no matter how much wine and
cheese will be served. If you want to court
your target client and his or her friends,
keep it social and create an environment
they can’t find elsewhere.
Pay attention to the spouse
A classic mistake too many advisors
make is to focus all of their attention on
the high earners, ignoring prospects’ and
clients’ spouses and children. Not only is
this poor service, but it will also cost you
in the long run; it’s a major reason upwards
of 70 percent of widows switch financial
advisors. Don’t become a statistic.
Attention to detail with a spouse will
distinguish you from the rest and position
you for long-term success. If you’ve
convinced just one of the partners in the
relationship, you’ve only done half your job.
There will always be tension in the business
relationship if both partners aren’t on
I often look for opportunities when I
might normally send gifts to my clients and
direct the gift to their spouses instead.
The same gesture will mean more to the
underappreciated half of the equation and
net you more appreciation in the long run.
Personalize and over-deliver
Your clients are trusting you with a lot as
their financial advisor, and this trust doesn’t
create itself. Take any correspondence or
gift that you send as an opportunity to build
that trust by letting them know that you
care about them personally.
Don’t send trite, generic birthday
cards. Use your imagination to build a
more thoughtful interaction. This can be
something small, such as a handwritten
note like your grandfather would have sent.
A high-end set of kitchen knives is a gift
that’s off the beaten path. Your client will
think of you every time he or she dices a
tomato. My company deals with Cutco
knives, which tend to be conversation
starters. They help us gain referrals when
people explain where they got them.
You’ll find that being thoughtful and
looking for chances to do something
unexpected will open up opportunities you
never imagined. I once found out that a client
was going on a hunting trip in Montana for
his 60th birthday. I tracked down the name
of the camp he was going to and mailed
ahead a personalized, gift-wrapped hunting
knife. Not only did I retain that client, but he
was blown away, ordering 10-times as much
from us the following year.
Don’t confine yourself to the traditional
routine of form birthday cards and
guy-centric ball-game outings. Be truly
thoughtful and consider the whole family.
You’ll be amazed by the results.
*Reprinted with permission. First published on Advisorperpectives.com